Sunday, March 28, 2010

Point zero

I’ve stumbled upon a concept, and I’ve given it a name. Point zero. This would be the title of my book if I were to write one, and it is the perfect summation of my own personal tipping point. I have considered the last three and a half years a special kind of journey. I took some chances on believing in myself, asked for some help and verification of my strengths to do so, managed to break free of an incredibly pragmatic approach to work that dictated a good and secure job should be enough. Once those first steps were taken it’s as if a celestial wind blew down my unseen (or self-constructed) barriers and opened doors I had no faith existed. It has been a journey of total immersion – in my strengths, in my weaknesses, in my relationships and in the homes I’ve made along the way. I have experienced some of the greatest pain and frustration of my life along the way, along with moments of absolute and utter bliss in which I repeat Anne Lammot’s simple praise to God, “thank you thank you thank you thank you.” I feel like I have scratched the tip of what it means to grow up. I grew up pretty easily in terms of the basics of caring for my basic needs and myself – I think I’m on a slightly slower trajectory to understanding the complexity of life, relationships, sacrifice and love. I’m getting there. And much of what I’m learning here has nothing to do with the fact that I’m in Africa, but that I’m in a place, both personally and socially that strips away some of the distractions that kept me feeling somehow detached from the base level of life and humanity in the past.

The most impacting part of this journey is the realization that the more time goes by, the more I understand how little I know and that while there are aspects of ourselves that are absolutely imperative to honor for what they are and how they feed our soul, there are also plenty of beliefs and attitudes we take on as a factor of our circumstance, our culture and our experiences. The longer I live my life in Kenya – in some ways so isolated and in others so much more entrenched in the reality of life than I’ve ever felt in the U.S. – the more I realize that my take on the world, in all its cultural relativity and sensitivity, is the smallest of sand grains in a much bigger picture. It’s as if every day I strip away a piece of knowing and receive a reminder to once again look outward for a new understanding of life. Not to reinvent my philosophy or my faith, but to constantly invite in the awing magnitude of life on this earth, in all its wonder and diversity.

I think this is point zero for me. This line I find myself walking where I can recognize how far I’ve come, but at the same time how much more there lays ahead. Where I can walk with a bounce in my step and a twinkle of potential in my eye, while at the same time feeling my throat close and that guttural feeling of discouragement about the state of things and my inability to do anything about them. It lets me believe 100% that whatever it takes to finish this time is worth it, while at the same time acknowledging a state of disenfranchisement that makes me feel like savings don’t matter anyway. It’s a place I both want to move past, but never stray too far from. It is, I imagine, exactly why that wind blew, those doors were opened, and this time was given.

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